Iowa community colleges earn accreditation for concurrent enrollment programs
Eleven Iowa community colleges that educate high school students through concurrent enrollment programs have earned accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
NACEP accreditation validates the quality of programs that provide college courses to high school students.
Programs at the following colleges earned accreditation in 2012:
- Northeast Iowa Community College
- North Iowa Area Community College
- Northwest Iowa Community College
- Iowa Central Community College
- Iowa Valley Community College District
- Hawkeye Community College
- Eastern Iowa Community College District
- Kirkwood Community College
- Western Iowa Tech Community College
- Southwestern Community College
- Indian Hills Community College
"This significant achievement demonstrates the high quality of community college concurrent enrollment programs," Roger Utman, administrator of the Iowa Department of Education’s Division of Community Colleges, said. "These colleges are to be commended for their hard work and commitment to meeting national standards."
Iowa’s standards for concurrent enrollment programs align closely with NACEP standards, which represent best practices in program administration to ensure that college courses offered in high school settings are of the same quality and rigor as courses offered on a college campus. One in four Iowa community college students is jointly enrolled in high school, a rate that U.S. Department of Education leaders have said they want to duplicate in all states.
"Those high-quality offerings are important, with nearly 39,000 Iowa high school students, including more than half of all seniors, taking one or more community college courses each year," Jeremy Varner, an Iowa Department of Education consultant, said.
NACEP's standards require implementation of policies and practices to ensure that:
- Students enrolled in concurrent enrollment courses are held to the same standards of achievement as students in on-campus courses;
- Instructors meet the academic requirements for faculty members in the sponsoring postsecondary institution and are provided discipline-specific professional development; and
- Concurrent enrollment programs are held accountable through impact studies, student surveys, and course and program evaluations.
To earn accreditation from NACEP, the Iowa community colleges conducted extensive self-study, documented how their programs adhere to NACEP standards and were evaluated by peer reviewers from NACEP-accredited programs.
All 15 community colleges in Iowa have committed to validate the quality of their concurrent enrollment programs through accreditation. Des Moines Area Community College’s concurrent enrollment program was the first to earn accreditation in 2010.
Iowa's community colleges are comprehensive institutions with statutory missions of providing transfer-oriented arts and science programs, career and technical programs, adult education, customized job training, programming for high school students, developmental education and community services.
Community colleges have an “open-door” admissions policy, which guarantees Iowans an opportunity for educational assistance and career development.